How to access an eco-development

Intrigued by this comment

What I want to know is why cycle lanes are not being designed into every new development? We have a massive “Eco” development near us – Upton, Northampton – and there is not one cycle lane designed into the road layout.

below a post from the Lo-Fidelity Bicycle Club, I felt compelled to investigate.

It seems a new town/village, Upton, is being built to the west of Northampton, to the south of the Weedon Road, which connects Northampton to the M1. According to the Design Code documents for the development, available from Northampton Borough Council here,

This Design Code and the Urban Framework for Upton, as illustrated on Figure 2.1, are based upon key development principles promoting sustainable urban growth and creation of a distinctive, enduring environment. In line with the ODPM’s ‘Sustainable Communities Plan’, established in 2003, the Upton project seeks to address the issues of sustainability at a number of different levels. 

And also

To reduce reliance on cars and encourage a walkable environment, public transport facilities will be in place at the early stages of implementation.

Sounds good. A new eco-town, designed around ‘sustainable growth’ principles, that reduces reliance on cars, and encourages walking. This is the kind of thing we need!

How do you get in and out of this development? Well, it seems that in 2009, a major access road was opened.

New road to open the way for 12,000 homes

A new £17 million road linking an industrial estate with a main dual carriageway in Northampton has been officially opened to drivers. The one-mile stretch, named Upton Valley Way North, links the A45 Weedon Road with the new Swan Valley development, and has been built to open up land for 12,000 homes in the Upton area. Mayor of Northampton Brian Markham cut the ribbon to declare it open and led a procession of the first cars to test the award-winning road at its opening yesterday.

Steve Collins, senior regeneration manager for the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), which incorporates English Partnership, said the project showed planners were keen to put in infrastructure before going ahead with any house-building projects. Mr Collins, who addressed villagers from nearby Kislingbury, dignitaries and guests at the Weedon Road junction of Upton Valley Way North, said: “A lot of objections to housing growth has been the ability to provide infrastructure. I think the Government has listened hard to that message. This is an excellent example of the Government investing a lot of time in delivering infrastructure before growth. What that does is open land for growth in a plan that has been allocated for a long time.”

I’m getting the distinct impression from this news story that this road is for ‘cars’ and ‘drivers’. But surely this can’t be the case? Not in a new development designed to ‘reduce reliance on cars’?

Well,  here’s what the ‘infrastructure’ of Upton Valley Way North looks like, at the junction with Weedon Road, courtesy of Google Streetview –

I can’t think of a better way to reduce reliance on cars and encourage a walkable environment than by inserting a stupid number of filter lanes, large radius bends, pedestrian holding pens, and further anti-personnel fences that ring the corners of this junction. Can you? Presumably that’s a crappy shared-use pavement on the left. Or not. Not that it really matters. Sod off, cyclists. What do you think this is? An eco-town?

If we turn to the left, we see that Weedon Road itself looks even easier to cross on foot.

Again, count the pedestrian sheep-pens.

Further into town, we have the spot where the Upton development fronts onto Weedon Road, which apparently is going to be a ‘boulevard.’

Crossing Weedon Road here – from the right of  this picture – to the eco-town on the left will require four separate light signals.

This same scene, from the plan of Upton. The new eco-buildings are marked in red, to the south. Weedon Road runs east-west. The pink strips mark out the crossings. I notice that to traverse on the east of the junction seems to involve five separate crossings.

A ‘walkable environment’?

Nice trees though.

An artist’s impression of the ‘Weedon boulevard’. Notice the ‘provision’ for cyclists – the pavement.

This entry was posted in Car dependence, Cycling policy, Infrastructure, Town planning, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to How to access an eco-development

  1. Hi,
    It was my original comment which prompted this – thanks for the very detailed reply! It is ridiculous how much the planners round here make stupid decisions. One of the most stupid was to turn the old Sandy Lane in Duston into a cycle path when they built the Sandy Lane Relief Road, but then not join it up with the existing path in my estate. To now access the new cycle route from the housing, you have to cycle along a pedestrian path to either end of it to join it! The old path runs parallel to it and I don’t think it would have taken much to provide a couple of cut throughs, do you?
    Anyway, as a cyclist, I have tried to travel along the A45 and into the new Eco estate at Upton and it is a nightmare. There is a cycle lane on the road travelling into town, but not coming the other way. There are plenty of unfinished curbs, which as a carrier of a small child, are no mean feat to get down! I won’t be doing it again!
    Thanks again,

    • Clare, thank for prompting the post in the first place.

      I know Northampton reasonably well, and from experience the centre is deeply hostile to cycling, composed – seemingly entirely – of fast multi-lane gyratories.

      I did spot that were some ‘shared use’ paths that run alongside (one side!) of many of the new roads, but as usual, at any side road, or any roundabout, they simply stop, and you have to give way, or, worse, cross to the other side of the road to continue your journey.

  2. Kim says:

    All this show that planners have failed to learn from the failures of the past and are bound to repeat the same mistakes, to line the pockets of developers who with choose to live somewhere else…

  3. Tulyar says:

    Classic – with 12,000 dwellings and by the look of things no retail provision (?) that means around 70,000 to 80,000 trips per day going to work, school, shops etc, and even 10% of this would sustain a pretty good bus service between Weedon/Daventry and Northampton. Of course the way to do this is to plug it in to the existing services, but hey lets make the road a big cul de sac so the bus company (and the passengers) enjoy a added 10-15 minutes on the journey time to run down a dead end road.

    Obviously not the canny thinking of the Borders Council, who had the regional hospital designed so that the buses on the main road could drive through the site from end to end, and have no time penalty for serving the site. result is that all bus routes on A7 go via front door, and passengers use the WRVS tearoom as a deluxe ‘bus shelter’ as they can see buses arriving from their seats.

    A corollary is of course that 80,000 trips – with say 2 persons per vehicle (assuming a higher % of non-drivers (kids)) will mean 40,000 car movements (or more) per day. Really just what we need at the A45/M1 junction!

    Clearly one to publicise widely for the misuse of the terminology – and the money. Why not write it up for A to B magazine or CBT Transport Retort.

  4. Andrew says:

    I so wish I could say something upbeat to you positive people, but it is my lot to demonstrate the anger which so many must feel when faced with this pathetic nonsense. What a bunch of morons populate the planning world. Failed your A-levels ? Why not become a town planner ? Failed your GCSE’s ? Never mind, you can always get elected and pretend to know what you are doing. No-one will ever notice and if they do it will be too late. You can always say it was a majority decision and it’s only public money.

    • christhebull says:

      @Andrew – I haven’t even started my degree in Architecture & Planning yet, but it is worrying that I could almost certainly do a better job of planning a cohesive cycle network and designing the junctions than those who are apparently qualified. UWE, aside from training a quarter of the country’s planning graduates, apparently is quite strong on the eco side, so part of me thinks that because planners see cyclists undertaking lorries or on the pavement, they design dangerous filter lanes or designate pavements shared use, thus encouraging more of the poor riding they see. The problem seems to be that “Dutch quality cycle provision” is not part of the design codes for our roads, let alone the design brief that Wimpey et al put out and cycling can therefore be ignored along with “decent sized rooms” and “garages that a car will fit in”. I remember a planned “eco town” at Dunsfold Aerodrome (better known as the Top Gear test track) that intended to charge people to enter by car. No bus lanes, no cycle tracks to Cranleigh (which would link up with the Downs Link) – just a punitive charge that would be an instant turn off, with no viable alternative.

      I must also say that I would be seriously worried if some of those who left school at 16 with poor GCSEs became elected at even a low level – but it some may just be my age group (about 18) but those people I know with political ambitions are almost universally going to university and more often than not to the more prestigious locations, although I do of course realise that, especially at a local level, people may become involved in politics later on in life.

  5. Contrast with Kloosterveen, the new housing estate with 9000 homes near Assen in the Netherlands.

    There are two entrances by car, which look like this and this.

    However, you can enter from far more directions by bike, including here, the centre existed out of temporary buildings before the houses were built to stop people learning to drive everywhere, but now looks like this. The route to the centre of the city by bike looks like this and required doing this.

    It’s been achieved without restricting car parking spaces so that people park their cars on the cycle paths and with a tight grid of cycle paths which encourage their use. Children get to school like this. More photos here.

    None of this is particularly special. It’s just normal for new developments in the Netherlands and no-one is claiming to be an “eco” thingy.

  6. AndyP335 says:

    Love the optimism Chris, long may it continue. I spent over a decade in politics and at local level I’m afraid the intelligence level is frustrating. The problem at national level is the opposite, but very little ‘real world experience’. On a more positive note, it is the duty of those who can see, even a little, to assist those who are blind – so keep up the good work.

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